‘Very close call’ in Fort Dodge blaze
Man jumps from second floor, children caught by neighbor
Two young children were dropped from the second floor into the arms of a neighbor as flames ripped through a Fort Dodge apartment house early Friday morning.
The 10-month-old child and the 4-year-old child, along with a man and a pregnant woman, were taken to UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center suffering from smoke inhalation. All four have been released from the hospital, according to Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter.
Hergenreter said the man jumped from the second floor of the apartment house at 1627 Second Ave. S., while the woman came out of a second floor window and and went back inside through another window away from the fire so she could go down an interior stairwell.
Flames were coming out of the windows as the people escaped.
”It was a very close call for them,” Hergenreter said.
The fire was reported at 1:39 a.m. Friday. Firefighters and police were on the scene for about four hours.
Firefighters don’t yet know what started the blaze, but they determined that it started on the first floor of an apartment that occupies both floors at one end of the building. It then spread up into the second floor via the stairs.
”Rapid fire spread up the stairs is what trapped them,” Hergenreter said.
He said the man jumped from the second floor, then ran to the first floor apartment on the other side of the building. The man woke up the neighbors there, who called 911.
The neighbors also brought out a short stepladder, according to Hergenreter. Someone stood on the stepladder and the children were dropped to that individual.
”They caught the children,” Hergenreter said.
Hergenreter said the woman, whom he said is 32 weeks pregnant, couldn’t get down on the stepladder. He said she moved to a window away from the fire, got back inside and came down the stairs.
Everyone was out of the building when firefighters arrived.
Hergenreter said flames were coming out of the windows on both the first and second floors when firefighters arrived.
They advanced hoselines into the building and quickly put the fire out.
”That went extremely well,” Hergenreter said.
He said the fire was confined to the two-story apartment. The two apartments on the other side of the building sustained smoke damage.
A total of 10 people who live in the building were displaced by the blaze and are being assisted by the American Red Cross.
Six off-duty firefighters were called in to assist.
Hergenreter said he could not confirm if there were working smoke detectors in the building.
The building is owned by Joseph and Cynthia Egdorf, of Humboldt, according to online records of the Webster County assessor’s office. Those records indicate that it was built in 1898.